Managing Mental Health in the Workplace

Over the past year, we have sadly seen the number of people suffering with mental illness increase as a result of the pandemic. In the workplace, this can be detrimental and can have a huge impact on sickness absence levels.

We have put together our top tips on how to manage mental illness in the workplace and what employees and employers can do to create a better working environment. 

  1. Policies are key 

HR Consultants and Employment lawyers are always banging on about implementing HR polices. Well, even with mental health, this is no different! 

Implementing a mental health policy should be a great starting point to encouraging open conversations about mental health. This policy (like all) should be regularly reviewed and should include details such as: 

  • How you promote wellbeing of your staff in the workplace;
  • If employees are struggling with their mental health, who they should speak to and how you will support them; 
  • contact details of organisations that can help with employees who are struggling. This can be an external Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) provider or charities such as Mind or the Mental Health Foundation.
  • Encourage open conversations 

Employees are more likely to come forward and speak out if they are struggling if encouraged to do so. That being said, try and create an environment where employees can speak openly to each other and their managers about their challenges with mental health and they will be more likely to seek help rather than try and hide it. 

Over time, this will normalise talking about mental health in the workplace so that there is no stigma attached to it. 

  • Train line managers

In order for employees to be able to gain the support they need, your line managers need to be equipped to be able to support an employee that comes forward to them. There are a number of courses available now which raise awareness of mental health in the workplace, including training as a mental health first aider. 

If line managers lead by example, employees are more likely to come forward. 

  • Check in with employees  

If you have a good relationship with your team, they are more likely to come forward if they are struggling. This can be through employee engagement surveys or regular 121’s with the team, to assess how employees are feeling about things. Remember though not to take a “blanket’ approach with all employees; some tend to speak more openly than others. 

  • Take stock of mental health 

In order to provide solutions or address any problems, you need to know how staff are feeling. This can be about work/life balance and/or how they are feeling generally.

There may be other issues or themes which need to be addressed so by having an employee engagement survey or something that can provide you with some data will be a good start. 

It may be that you start to notice trends, such as certain teams or individuals are overworked or there are high sickness levels starting to show.  These are red flags which need to be addressed as soon as possible.

If you would like assistance with implementing a mental health policy into your business, introducing a 121 programme or running an employee engagement survey, we can help. Email us at support@guardianlaw.co.uk

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